By Dean Blevins, NEWS 9 Sports Director for NewsOn6.com
NORMAN, OK -- Rampant speculation has Mississippi State ready to hire OU Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson as its new head football coach. This would be bad news for the Sooners in their pursuit of national title number eight when they meet Florida for the BCS title in a month.
Multiple sources tell us that the head coaching job is Wilson's to take or turn down. The Broyles Award winner, given to the assistant coach in the country for his performance in 2008, responded to our text inquiry asking if a contract had been offered: "Not to my knowledge...On flight recruiting and thurs to Orlando for awards show. Taking off now. Thanks. Kevin." Head coaching sources in the SEC are telling us indirectly that there is truth to the Wilson to MSU talk.
And further, that a Mississippi plane was at Love Field yesterday for an hour-suggesting the two parties might have met in Dallas Tuesday.
History tells me the translation to Wilson's text response and the other information at our disposal and the semantics verbiage is where there is smoke there is fire. And that an agent could be the one with the contract in hand....not Wilson.
Could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. But in following many coaching hires for many year, this type of back and forth is SOP. A coach can squelch all of this by saying he is not interested. Or, that the speculation is wrong and that neither he nor his representatives are in discussions and are definitely not in contract discussions.
Without going into detail as to why it would make sense for the Southeastern Conference school to want Wilson to replace the fired Sly Croom and for Wilson to be dead serious about accepting, it is worth noting the relevance to potential significance distractions for the Sooners as they prepare for a title match up with powerful Florida in the title game.
New head coaches spend an enormous time working for the new school. It would be dumb no to do so. You just can't serve two masters in this day and age when 24/7 requirements are necessary in situations such as this.
Ponder what you'd do if you just got the biggest job and most high-paying job of your life. Wouldn't you spend a lot of time, energy and thinking to doing everything from recruiting coordination to hiring assistants to working hand in hand with your new administration? The list is endless.
Though many coaches in this situation have good intentions, rarely does it work out for the school he is leaving. The best example relative to Wilson and OU's possible situation would be the year OU upset Florida State in of all things, the national title game of 2000...yes, in the Orange Bowl.
FSU's invaluable OC Mark Richt took the Georgia job but stayed on to run Bobby Bowden's offense against OU. He and his offense were a miserable failure. Yes, OU's defense was very good. But fact his, newly-named Heisman winner Chris Weinke (in a twist of irony, can you say Sam Bradford?) and his record-setting offense, stunk up the joint that January 2009 night in the Miami. They were so awful and uncoordinated that they didn't score a single point.
Later, all parties agreed it would have been best for the likeable Richt to have jettisoned for Athens and leave the offensive duties to underlings. The ‘Noles scored a safety when OU intentionally yielded the two instead of trying to get off a risky punt late in the game.
Wilson deserves the job. He's a decent man and invaluable man in the record-setting system of the 2008 Sooners. But truth is, if he takes the job at Mississippi State, whether he stays on for the bowl or hands over the offense to Josh Heupel and ejects for the Deep South, OU will be severely challenged to say the least.
By all accounts Heupel will someday be a tremendous coordinator and even head coach. But jumping in head first in this situation is not in his or OU's best interest. Would taking the MSU job be best for Wilson? Don't know. Would taking the MSU job be significantly damaging to the Sooners? Yes.
Bob Stoops is good at minimizing such damage and good at saying the right things. But behind closed doors you can bet gnashing of teeth can be heard in many parts of the campus if all this is true.
More on this and more on Sam Bradford as the Heisman presentation is just three days away in upcoming blogs posted later today and through the weekend.